Matters relating to money and civic service

The public has a continuing interest in the compensation of public figures

  • Jul. 3, 2014 5:00 a.m.
Castlegar City Council

Castlegar City Council

Betsy Kline

Castlegar News

 

Local governments have published their annual Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) reports for 2013.  SOFI reports are required by the government and must include a schedule of remuneration paid to elected officials.

A comparison of local salaries shows that Castlegar city councillors and mayor are paid less than their counterparts in Trail and Nelson.

Councillors in Trail receive $14,005 annually, while Nelson councillors receive on average $18,000, and Castlegar councillors receive $13,065. That amounts to a nearly $5,000 gap in compensation between Nelson and Castlegar councillors. Stipends for the mayors tell a similar story.  The Trail mayor is given $28,000, the Nelson mayor $45,173 while the Castlegar mayor receives $26,130. The difference here is a more drastic $19,000.

The discussion on remuneration for council and mayor is timely as the city council recently appointed an independent committee of community members to examine current pay as is required by bylaw every 30-33 months.

One thing to be gained by attending city council meetings is an understanding of all that council and mayor do in order to fulfil their responsibilities.  Along with preparing for and attending council meetings, each member sits on three or four committees. These committees oversee everything from public safety and transportation to recreation and environmental concerns.

City councillors and the mayor are also very active in charities by supporting them with finances or by appearing at events. They support events such as McHappy Day, Tim Horton’s Camp Day, Sunfest, Winterfest, the outdoor skating party and Canada Day celebrations.

A survey of councillors showed they spend between 35-50 hours a month on average, with some months requiring 60 – 80 hours. This number was hard to estimate however, as  councillors reported they also were never really off duty. They are frequently sought out by community members who want to discuss issues when they are out to dinner, grocery shopping, or even at work. The councillors emphasized that their responses were not meant to be complaints; they understand it’s expected.

Councillor Chernoff expressed the common sentiment, “As a public figure, it is part of the job. It is what we do.” Councillor Rye expressed similar thoughts and stated, “We enjoy it and do it willingly.”

Mayor Chernoff reported that in June he put in 148 hours in his role as Mayor. This includes many obligations that take place on evenings and weekends. Mayor Chernoff stated, “I understood the hours when I ran for the position.  You get out of it what you put in to it. I enjoy the position and serving the community.  It is not really about salary, but service to the community.”